Strange Bedfellows: 2013 Lebanon/Syria Edition
The Lebanese civil war featured some bizarre and seemingly philosophically contradictory allies on the ground, often battling each other one day and then joining forces the next as regional and international players laid down their bloody cards and hedged their bets on the various militias and contract assassins of the moment.
Enter the current Syria/Lebanon contender for the very strangest of bedfellows: the Lebanese Forces and al-Nusra Front.
Stretching the ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ maxim to its limits, it has been reported in the March 8 sympathetic Lebanese press (potential bias alert!) that the rightist Christian political party/armed militia founded on fascist principles with a long history of anti-Muslim, Palestinian, and Syrian racism and war crimes has joined forces with al-Qaeda in Iraq offshoot and fearsome Syrian civil war Salafists al-Nusra Front.
In Lebanon’s northeastern Wadi Khaled, one finds what could be called the extension of al-Nusra Front inside March 14. Under the pretext of toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Phalanges’ homebase of Bikfaya and the Lebanese Forces’ homebase of Maarab are both creating links with extremists.
… Mahmoud N. is the commander of a group linked to the Lebanese Forces in Wadi Khaled. He was active logistically within the Salafi offensive under the pretext of “solidarity” with the Syrian opposition in its attempt to topple Assad.
While these two seemingly antagonistic groups have a shared hatred of Assad at the moment, what happens if more overt sectarian civil conflict spreads to Lebanon? What will the rightist Christian French-speaking, Arab identity-disavowing constituents of the Lebanese Forces in the northern mountain areas and east Beirut think if al-Nusra Front does indeed expand permanently into Lebanon and form a coalition with existing splintered Sunni extremist groups?
This doesn’t seem likely to end well.